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"He comes to work with a smile on his face, he’s got a good attitude, and in general, he’s got an awesome personality and sense of humor. He’s just fantastic.”

Meet John!

John Ackley is the brewery’s newest Warehouse Associate, and he’s been killing it so far. He’s thoughtful, articulate, and not only a pleasure to talk to, but a pleasure to work with as well!

“John is an integral team member to the warehouse,” says Warehouse Manager Polly Pollock-Bell. “When I throw a task his way, he gets it done. I don’t have to worry about following up, and I know if he’s on it, it’s taken care of. He’s also taken on a lot more responsibility quickly. There have been a few times that I’ve had to rely on someone when I’m not there, and I’ve been able to rely on him. He comes to work with a smile on his face, he’s got a good attitude, and in general, he’s got an awesome personality and sense of humor. He’s just fantastic.”

(Ed. note: We couldn’t include all of Polly’s insight on John, but she wants everyone to know that this is just a snapshot of why she’s so excited to work with him!)

Meet John!

He’s actually a local; John grew up in Cape May and went to Lower. 

While he claims that it’s not that exciting, anyone who’s visited and fell in love with Cape May might beg to differ! 

“My sister lives right around the street from me, and my grandma lives in Court House. Most of my family is from the area. My parents both went to Middle as well,” he says.

Much like our latest crew feature, Jason Dunston, John came in during one of our busiest times of the summer, starting his new role around the Fourth of July weekend.

“It’s a nice change of pace now. We’re still busy, but you have time to process things a little more,” he says. “It’s cool to be able to stop by the Brewtique and the Tasting Room and talk to everybody now that there is more time to catch up and talk with one another.”

“The first couple weeks were crazy. I had no idea what was going on. Somebody said move this, and I moved it,” he says with a smile.

“It’s probably the most fun work environment that I’ve been in, and I’ve worked in some cool places,” John shares. “I worked in a small bike shop that my neighbor owns, and I used to work at Kona in Wildwood.”

“My most recent position was at a bank, and there were some great people there,” he says. “I just couldn’t sit behind a desk all day. It’s a nice environment, and banks aren’t going anywhere, but it was really dull.”

“That’s what spurred the move,” he says. “There are no dull days here.”

“The sense of community here is a lot closer, too, because we’re all dependent on each other being efficient and doing well, and that’s been really cool. Everyone has been really welcoming and forthcoming,” he says. 

“I learn new stuff every day. It’s really cool being over in the brewhouse and getting to talk to the brewers and the cellarpeople, and James and Brian. Everybody’s got a lot of information,” John explains. “If you have a question about what hops they’re using in a brew, or how they do it, or when they’re changing a tank or line, everyone’s so eager to share their information. I’ve learned a lot in four or five months, so I’m excited to see what I’ll know in four or five years.”

“Here, you’re a cog, but you’re an integral cog, and you’re a cog that all the other cogs know,” he says.

(Ed. note: Damn, that’s deep. But it’s true! We’re all really tight knit here at the brewery.)

“It’s nice because we are all important, and everyone acknowledges it, from the newest hire to Ryan and Bob. Everybody is in for the team,” he says.

“Starting when I did was like getting forged by fire, but I think it was a great way to learn, because I don’t think it’s ever going to get crazier than that,” he says.

He’s loving working with his new team, too.

“Polly has been fantastic,” he says. “I feel like I have gotten the lay of the land now, and have gotten comfortable operating in the position.”

“It’s really nice now that there’s no real surprises. You know what to expect, and it keeps you busy, so that’s good,” he says.

John gestures to the walls of cans around us. “For instance, most of these cans stay still until production runs out, and for upcoming beer releases, we make sure all the pallets are accessible.” 

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I applied,” John says. “I just wanted to get into the brewery. I live about five minutes away, so it’s a nice commute for me.”

(Ed. note: Something John and fellow Warehouse team member Mike Lauff have in common!)

“I like the warehouse. Sometimes I see admin or the Tasting Room, and I was on the road today, so you get to move around a lot. The variety is nice,” he says.

“Polly is teaching me some of the logistical sides of the warehouse. It’s an interesting dichotomy between physically moving the 50-pound kegs and then virtually moving the kegs on the computer. It’s a big difference in the day, but it’s a nice change of pace as well, because you get some breathing time,” he says.

“It’s just a little taste of the office, but you still get to move around.” John smiles.

He has more than just your typical local connection to the brewery, too.

“JP is my brother-in-law,” he shares. “I’ve been having Cape May beer for as long as there’s been Cape May beer. He would bring it to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other family gatherings.”

“Easter was always a fun time, because JP worked here, so you’d go over and there was a fridge full of Cape May beers to choose from. There was never a lack of that, so that was always cool,” he says.

John remembers when we used to bottle beer, and still has some of our original shirts and beanies from when we were first starting out.

“I’ve known about it forever because of John Paul,” he says. “It just never worked out before employment-wise to get in here, and then COVID hit, and the bank scaled back. I was off work for a while and saw the brewery was hiring. It worked out really well.”

One of the things John really enjoys so far is getting to try everything we produce.

“For as long as I’ve been here, there hasn’t been a beer that I haven’t been able to try, and we’ve done some cool ones. I really like psYCHed up! and Double Dry-Hopped Follow the Gull. We have White Caps Sticky Bun now, too, which are both good,” he says.

“I love the Cape May Coffee Stout. I like a stout when it’s chilly and the weather has finally turned. I can’t drink a stout when it’s 90 degrees out,” he says.

(Ed. note: Year-round stout lovers, please tell us how you make this work!)

When he’s not working, John keeps things pretty simple—he loves playing basketball and riding his bike. 

“At our local rec center, there’s a men’s night every Monday, but it’s gotten weird with COVID, so now it’s normally just solo outdoors. That’s one of the things I love about basketball, though; you don’t need a group of people to play it,” he shares. “I keep a ball in the trunk of my car all the time, so if I’m ever on the road and I see a court and want to play, it’s there. All you need is a hoop and a ball and you’re good to go.”

Despite growing up here in Cape May, John has a somewhat divisive opinion about the ocean: “I don’t love the ocean, so it’s weird growing up here,” he says with a grin.

He mentions that seafood is growing on him. He was surprised to be a fan of Cape May Salts, which used local oyster shells, and is friends with the owner of @hiddengempokebowls here in Cape May. 

“I do a little bit of cooking in my spare time—not quite on JP’s level,” he says with a smile.

(Ed. note: Seeing as JP is a professional chef, we’re not surprised!)

 “I’ve been making some homemade pastas, which is a lot tougher than you think it would be,” he says.

He’s currently making them by hand, using a rolling pin to stretch it out and then cut the pieces into long rectangles.

“I did one with rosemary and lemon zest that came out pretty good,” he says.

(Ed. note: Aaand, now we’re hungry.)

Although he hasn’t been able to travel much recently, John enjoys being on the road and taking road trips, and has traveled a bit in the south.

“I’m a big fan of North Carolina, and I have a friend who lives in Nashville,” he says. “I went down to New Orleans last summer. It was July, so it was crazy, crazy hot, but scenically, it was fantastic. The houses are so cool and the architecture is great.”

“Driving down there, we went through the Carolinas, Mississippi, Alabama, and then we drove the opposite way up through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio,” he shares. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of beautiful places, and I still want to go to the Northwest and see Washington, Oregon, and Utah.”

Vermont is on his list as well to check out some of the great breweries up there. 

“Every once in a while, I’ll take a trip up to Philly. The art museum there is really nice. It’s just a fun place to walk around,” he says.

John isn’t afraid of long drives, either. He made the drive down to New Orleans in practically one shot, which is about a 20 hour drive from Cape May if you were wondering!

“The entire time I was driving through Delaware and Virginia, I listened to Harry Potter,” he says. “The audiobook got me through that stretch, and then I listened to Kurt Vonnegut the rest of the way.”

“It actually worked out really well. I listened to Slapstick, and as I was getting into New Orleans going over the bridge, the book was just finishing, so the timing worked out well,” he says.

“I play a little bit of the guitar and used to play the saxophone, so music is fantastic, but when you’re in a car for that long, there’s only so many songs you can listen to, so I had to break it up with the books on tape,” he says with a laugh.

Some of his favorite books include Post Office by Charles Bukowski and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré.

“Reading is a newer hobby of mine,” he shares. “I was never really a ‘read to pass the time’ kind of guy, and then one day I started, and realized how much I enjoyed it.”

John has also read through the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Well, almost all of it.

“I got three-quarters of the way through the fifth book and realized that the guy never finished the series, so I never actually finished that last book. Now, it’s looking like he’s never going to finish it,” he says, shaking his head.

(Ed. note: We’re still holding out a bit of hope for Winds of Winter, but we understand the feeling!)

“I hate being one of those ‘the books are better than the movie and show’ kind of people, but there’s just so much detail that you can’t fit into a show,” John explains. “They did really well with the first three or four seasons; they managed to get so much story in, but there were too many threads left loose.”

He admits to feeling a bit thrown after watching the movie version of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, too. 

“Both were really good books. The Bukowski books are kind of heavy, so in between, it’s nice to have a light book, although neither of those are that light. They’re both a little moody, but they’re easy, good reads,” he says.

“When I saw the movie for It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I didn’t picture Zach Galifianakis as the eccentric guy, and he played it really well, but it just wasn’t who I cast in my head,” he says.

John has always had a love for movies and film. 

“When I was in high school, I was really into videography and photography. I had a friend who actually went out to California. He wrote for Conan and James Corden,” he says.

“My dream career was to be a skateboard videographer. I used to get home from school and watch skate videos and then go to bed and rinse and repeat,” he admits.

“I grew up and realized that, for all of these groups of people, it’s just somebody in the group who picks up the camera, so it’s not a real career, but that was always a dream of mine,” he says.

John skated himself when he was younger, to the point of destroying his knees.

(Ed. note: As one does. Anyone who’s skated in the past knows the struggle!)

“We didn’t have any skate parks around here when I was younger, so we got in a lot of trouble in Cape May. In North Cape May there was an old movie theater that had a loading dock that we would skateboard in and then get thrown out of,” he shares.

“I jumped down way too many things that, as a 30-year-old, I would tell 15-year-old me to save your knees,” he says with a laugh. “When the humidity changes or when it rains, I feel like an older gentleman—I can definitely feel it in my bones.”

“Maybe I wouldn’t change it, I’d just jump down a little less stuff. Wear some knee pads. Never got into that, but probably should have.” John smiles. 

“Most of the friends that I had then, I still have now, so it’s nice. It’s a small area, so the people you know, you pretty much know them forever,” he says.

Photography is still a passion that he enjoys. John’s photography is mostly what he describes as “abandoned buildings and like trees and shit.”

If you want to see some of his shots, you’ll have to ask him about it! 

“Between here and Philadelphia, if you just pick some little random roads, you can see some really cool communities and areas. I love abandoned buildings and motels and restaurants and gas stations,” he says.

(Ed. note: We don’t know about you, but hearing John talk about the cool things he’s seen makes us want to go check out some of those areas!)

During the week, you can usually find John all around the Cape May Brewery campus, so if you spot him the next time you visit, make sure to say hi!